"The ‘New Cooperativism’ in Latin America: Worker-recuperated Enterprises and Socialist Production Units"
In the first decade of the 21st century, efforts to create alternatives to neoliberalism emerged in many parts of Latin America. Social movements across the region took to the streets, occupied abandoned factories, and started to create new democratic spaces, solidarity networks, and social economy initiatives. In one country after another, progressive governments began to take office, promising a break from the past. It was in this context that the new cooperativism emerged in Latin America. In contrast to traditional cooperativism in the region, this new movement emerged as a direct response by workers and communities to the economic and political crisis of the late 1990s, displays stronger horizontal organisation and democratic values, and has deeper connections to surrounding communities. In this paper, we present two case studies that exemplify this new cooperativism: Venezuela's Socialist Production Units and Argentina's Worker-Recuperated Enterprises. Using the framework of social movement learning, we argue that in both these cases participants learn new values and practices, and collectively create prefigurative knowledge that anticipate post-capitalist social relations. This is done through a variety of everyday activities, and in particular, through democratic participation in self-governance. However, this new cooperativism faces important challenges from both the state and market forces, suggesting that their autonomy is subjected to shifting and contested dynamics.
KeywordsLatin America, Cooperativism, Cooperative, Worker-Recuperated Enterprises, Socialism, Socialist Production, Capitalism, Post-Capitalism, Socialist Production Units
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